Manu Samoa are wearing their hearts on their sleeves in the anticipation of a physical and gruelling Pacific Nations Cup (PNC).
This PNC has been dubbed as the best yet. For the first time, the Pacific teams are laced with stars they had grown at home and lost to wealthier rugby nations.
Undoubtedly, Pacific island rugby fans all over the world will be at the edge of their seats with the best in the Pacific all meeting in one competition.
It is not only the best players – the coaching panels are something to talk about as well.
Former All Blacks great Tana Umaga has been running with the Samoan backline during training, sharing his knowledge with the Samoans.
Samoa captain Michael Alaalatoa said they came into the competition knowing it was not going to be easy.
“We are expecting a lot of physicality from the Tongan and Fijian boys, whilst the Aussies have a lot of experienced players amongst their ranks with former wallabies and super rugby players,” he said.
“All our players come from all over the world so we want to come together and play the Samoan way of rugby,” he said.
Manu Samoa head coach Seilala Mapusua said this year’s PNC has attracted a lot of interest and is going to be very different.
“Given that a lot of world class players are making themselves available for their home nations, so it will be really tough and harder that people were used to in the past competitions,” Mapusua said.
With the Moana Pacifika and the Fijian Drua allowed to play in the Super Rugby Pacific Competition, Samoa, Tonga and Fiji have been able to introduce young players to the standard of rugby expected at the international level.
The Manu Samoa will be fielding former Super Rugby winning Crusaders loose forward Jordan Taufua and Ereatara Enari at the half back position.
The Manu Samoa have 12 uncapped players in their 30-man squad.
However, what they lack in experience on the international level will be matched by their naturally talented, physical and hard-hitting players.
Samoa takes on Australia A at 1pm at the National Stadium in Suva on Saturday. This will be followed by Tonga taking on Fiji at 3.30pm.